“If you’re honest, if you work hard, and provide a good service, you’ll make it. Will it happen overnight? No. Great things take a lot of time, otherwise everyone else would be doing it.” –Allan Bense
During November’s Enlightened Entrepreneur, former Speaker of the House and current CEO of Bense Enterprises, Allan Bense, shared many trials and triumphs during his life to business students and local entrepreneurs at Gulf Coast State College. Building a strong reputation, working hard, and having a PLAN is part of his formula for success.
Allan Bense made it clear that your reputation is most important to your business. It takes years to establish your reputation, and “one stupid thing could ruin it instantly.” Allan did not start out as a successful businessman, rather he worked his way through as a janitor, waiter, mechanic, salesman, and more after his parents died at the age of 45. He spoke of these experiences as setting the stage for his business success. Bense established his reputation by always trying to get ahead of his opponents. At the age of 30, he wanted to own a bank, but had no money and didn’t know the first thing about running a bank, so he took it upon himself to work for someone else and learn the ropes every day in any way that he could until he knew more than his fellow employees. His advice is that “you always want to try to be in a position where you have more knowledge of an issue – no matter what it is – than your competitor.” Bense did finally buy a bank when he was thirty years old, grew the business until it turned a profit, and then sold it 5 years later.
Allan has highlighted his success, as well as many admitted failures during his political career. After Allan was elected into the Florida House of Representatives, he then looked to become the Speaker of the House. He admired the position, and was motivated to one day have that power himself. After losing four elections in running for the Florida House, he finally won and soon after became Speaker of the House. Bense attributes his success simply to the fact that he outworked his opponents; he hit the road early and traveled 325,000 miles by car just to call on members for their votes. Even though it took him many years to achieve his goals, he always reminds himself that it is okay to fail. “Don’t ever be afraid to fail” is the one thing he always tells others, especially those starting up a new business. Furthermore, he says, “believe in yourself, and don’t always try to hit a home run. Singles and doubles can add up quickly.”
Finally, he closes with some advice he learned from successful businessman Robert Pittman. Allan asked Robert, “How do you make a billion dollars?” Robert simply replied, “You PLAN.” Allan elaborated on what this means for us: “The first letter stands for making your plan; write your business plan and map out your finances. The L stands for learn; have some education background like being a lawyer, CPA or have some type of trade. The A stands for attitude; if you don’t think you’re going to be successful, then you’re not going to be successful. People will always tell you that you can’t and that you will fail, but always remain positive. Lastly, the N stands for being nice. Being nice can open up many opportunities in your business and will build many lasting relationships between those above and below you.”
“Accounting is defined as the language of business” according to David Tipton, the guest speaker for June’s Enlightened Entrepreneur. David is a Certified Public Accountant with Tipton, Marler, Garner & Chastain The CPA Group and former adjunct professor of Accounting. He emphasizes that for a business to become successful, they must have a Strategic Finance plan and follow it through.
According to David, a great start is to apply a formula that every business owner should know. The formula provides a basic understanding of your financial situation. First, identify assets to include real estate, company vehicles, office equipment, and capital. The assets are always set equal to the equity. There are two types of equity, the first being creditors and the second being the owners. Creditor equity will include bank loans, working capital loans, friends and family loans, and lease equipment agreements. Owners equity will include personal cash/savings, retirement account and sale of personal assets. Once you determine your Creditor and Owner Equity you add them together which equals the full amount of Equity in your business. You want Assets to equal your Equity.
A (Assets of a Business) =
C (Creditors) + O (Owners) =
E (Equity of a Business)
Quick Tips every Business owner should know:
● Worst thing a new business can do is take on too much debt too early or try to expand to fast and not make the necessary payments.
● Do not give up more than 50% percent of your business to investors.
● Know the form of business you want to establish.
Tipton also discussed how businesses could protect assets by identifying the right business structure for the business. “Creating an LLC is worth the minimal amount it cost, and an LLC can protect personal assets from future lawsuits that may otherwise jeopardize personal finances. The CPA group website has a New Business Resource Center
that has a Business Survival Guide and a guide for Considering an LLC.
One other piece of advice from David, “Taking a basic accounting class can help you be prepared to take on any job. It is so important for business owners to have basic accounting skills.”
Have you ever had an idea and thought it could be the next craze? Maybe something you found necessary, like a new way to clean a pool? Or what about a better solution to the misfires on the sensors used in those annoying automatic flushing toilets? This year’s Startup Weekend
participants considered these and more.
Sixty eager entrepreneurs arrived on Friday evening to pitch their idea. Event Facilitator, Corey Smith, conducted the selection process trimming the pitches down to six. Teams formed, and the organizers had the area’s best business mentors and coaches on hand to offer all the business consulting the teams required.
On Saturday teams scurried around conducting research, validating their ideas, testing their concepts, huddling together in various spots throughout the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. Teams worked diligently to create prototypes, analyze costs and further develop their business plans. Jim Riley, a business consultant with the Veterans Business Outreach Center and Jayme Thomas, co-founder of Visual Goodness coached teams throughout the weekend. Holly Pituch, marketing manager at SweetBay Development along with Chris Josten and his team from Curiosity Marketing Group consulted the participants on their design work and marketing plans. Team leader of the Incore Rock Climbing gym concept, Alexis Wicker said that “Jayme Thomas saved the day by helping her with the cost for their first-year projections.”
Saturday afternoon teams took a break from the product development and enjoyed walking through the Student Market Place
– an added event that showcased the start-up businesses of elementary students from Rising Leaders Academy.
The students sold their self-made wares earning real money to the real world. This year, Rising Leaders Academy made it their goal to prepare students to be successful in the 21st-century workplace by turning the entire school into a flourishing real world micro-society.
The Enactus GCSC Team and Ripples of Change Club shared their current project with the visitors. Their projects focuses on social entrepreneurship called the Tiny Pod Community.
Sunday evening the Startup Weekend participants made final preparations for team pitches to the judges.
In the end, they gave a five-minute presentation with hopes of winning one of the original designs of the 2017 trophies furnished by Gulf Coast State College and their FABLAB. The top three teams also won a collection of prizes valued close to 4,000 dollars. Congratulations to this year’s winning teams: 1st Place- Safe-Flush, 2nd Place- Clean Pool Pal and 3rd Place- Disaster Relief Unit.
The entire event would not have been possible without the following sponsors: